Napier: Bay break

By Kerri Jackson

Trips to Napier usually mean a chance to restock the wine racks and catch some sun. Arriving one unseasonably chilly weekend with no car, it seems the usual itinerary of trawling across the region's wineries while soaking up some Bay-strength vitamin D is not to be.

Luckily, I have a back-up plan. Staying at the gorgeous Spaview high on the bluff of Napier hill overlooking what is, today, a stormy Marine Parade, I am just a short walk (albeit uphill) to get home again from Napier's city centre.

But with evening settling in, along with the storm, I opt instead to crank up the gas fire, and tackle the bottle of Hawke's Bay red that's been thoughtfully provided. And while the fire warms the house, I warm myself in the spa.

Perched on the edge of the section, which is perched on the edge of Napier's bluff, soaking in the spa here will always be a spectacular experience. But when a storm is coming in it's quite something else.

The spa is sheltered from the wind in the corner of the property, and the pounding of waves on the shore below lends a nice dramatic bassline as I soak and savour the shiraz.

I wake much too late for sunrise the next morning, which is a shame as it would have looked spectacular from the spa, but still feel virtuous as I'm off to see Napier on foot.

I head downhill from Spaview to the small but very pretty Centennial Gardens, then cross the road to the famous Marine Parade. I veer left away from the town centre and walk for 30 minutes or so past the busy port, to reach picturesque Ahuriri.

If you approach Ahuriri on foot around the water's edge, keep heading past the playground at Spriggs Park along the boardwalk. Keep going past East Pier hotel and restaurant to Perfume Point (where sewerage was once pumped out to see, hence the rather euphemistic name). From here you'll be able to see down Westshore Beach and around the arch of coast to Bay View and Whirinaki.

Past the point, head south back towards the harbour, where rows of fishing and charter boats are lined up. At Nelson Quay I come across rusting Iron Pot (once used by whalers) for which this area is named.

Beyond the pot lies West Quay. It's a strip of some half a dozen dining and drinking establishments - most with sprawling decks to maximise afternoon sun. Relaxing on the Gin Trap's deck with another glass of wine, I consider a taxi back to Spaview rather than returning on foot. I have a pressing engagement with a spa - and a panoramic view.

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